What's New and Beneficial About Cabbage
• Cabbage can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in cabbage do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they've been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it's easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw cabbage still has cholesterol-lowering ability, just not as much as steamed cabbage.
• Researchers now realize that different types of cabbage (red, green, and Savoy) contain different patterns of glucosinolates. This new knowledge means that your broadest health benefits from cabbage are likely to come from inclusion of all varieties in your diet.
• Cabbage in general—but also Savoy cabbage in particular—turns out to be an especially good source of sinigrin. Sinigrin is one of the cabbage glucosinolates that has received special attention in cancer prevention research. The sinigrin in cabbage can be converted into allyl-isothiocyanate, or AITC. This isothiocyanate compound has shown unique cancer preventive properties with respect to bladder cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.
• In one recent study, short-cooked and raw cabbage were the only types of cabbage to show cancer-preventive benefits—long-cooked cabbage failed to demonstrate measurable benefits.
• Our Healthy Sauté method, which we recommend for cabbage, is very similar to steaming and enhances the flavor the of cabbage. See "How to Enjoy" below.
The Cabbage Advantage
Botanical name: Brassica oleracea
Descended from cabbage grown wild in Mediterranean regions thousands of years ago, the leaves in today’s varieties sometimes have interesting dissimilarities. Some appear wide-spread and waffled, while others are smooth and tightly bunched. The colors vary as well, presenting pale green, blue green, red, reddish purple, and nearly white. All have very short stems which, other than garden dirt on the very end, are just as delicious and nutritious as the leaves.
Cabbage is best prepared as close to raw as possible – sometimes called tender-crisp – to preserve this veggie’s many nutrients.
Coleslaw may be the most familiar cabbage preparation for Americans, but it’s also revered world-wide for the scrumptious flavor it lends to many kinds of hot soup.
Health Benefits of Cabbage
Cabbage has the highest amount of some of the most powerful antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables – phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes. Research has shown these compounds to protect against several types of cancer, including breast, colon, and prostate cancers. They also help lower the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or "bad cholesterol" levels in blood, which can build up in arteries and cause heart disease.
Rich in vitamin K, cabbage provides 85 percent of the body’s daily requirement. This is very important, not only for bone metabolism, but as a known Alzheimer's disease preventative by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. The 54 percent daily value of vitamin C supplied to the body with one serving of cabbage is impressive, too – even more than oranges – which can help scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals and protect against infection.
Cabbage is also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, folate, and manganese, as well as healthy amounts of thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). It also provides iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium for strong bones, and potassium for regulating the heart rate and blood pressure.